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Contributing Compute Power to Find a Covid-19 Vaccine

Rich Kenny, Group IT Director Apr 01, 2020

A few weeks ago, I came across an opportunity to contribute to Covid-19 vaccination research and development through an application called Folding@Home or F@H.

The background application uses dispersed architecture to contribute CPU and GPU power to Stanford University to run work unit simulations. The aim is to identify the proteins the virus uses to suppress our immune systems and reproduce. In other words, it helps to identify start points for researchers by providing processing power to run simulations.

Since Folding@home first asked for contributions, they have had over 400,000 individuals offering compute power. 

After contributing some of my own compute power at home, I reached out to Techbuyer to see if anybody else would like to help. We’ve had a great response, with many staff downloading the app as well as sharing with friends and family.

If you are interested in helping, all you need is to download this app on your PC, which takes a couple of minutes at most. I recommend setting to fold whilst idle and at medium power, which means the app won’t interrupt your internet use or work ability, and it will contribute to research and development whilst you are away from your PC.

It’s great to be able to share something positive during these strange times. It just goes to show that, even from a distance, when we work together we can achieve great things!

 

6th April update:

Over the past three weeks, over 700K citizen scientists have joined the Folding@home project.

This 20-fold increase in participation has given them unprecedented compute power to bring to bear on COVID-19. In fact, Folding@home is the first computer to achieve the exaFLOPS scale and is now estimated to be more powerful than the next top 100 supercomputers combined.

Techbuyer has now completed 359 Work units as a team and are ranking as one of the top 10,000 team contributors! Thanks to everybody who has contributed so far. 

The latest research is looking at targeting the spike of the Coronavirus S protein. This is where it binds to human proteins and allows it to enter human cells (a viable first point of infection). Modelling how the spike opens will allow it to be targeted with therapeutics long term. The CPU cost of these simulations are heavy – a single simulation ran on your PC would take around 100 years full time to watch develop. This is where global compute comes in. Please keep sharing Folding@home's work to ensure this research continues!


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